Plans to build on Leicestershire’s £600 million food and drink economy are continuing with a series of in-depth discussions with firms working in the sector.
Business support organisation The Food and Drink Forum is co-ordinating the drawing up of a strategy to help ensure that Leicestershire has the place it deserves on the UK’s food and drink map.
The Forum is working on a blueprint to fly the flag for Leicestershire food and drink products, help businesses in the sector to grow and develop, and to create tourism and promotional opportunities linked to food and drink.
Two consultation events have already been held in the city and county to gauge initial views on how to drive forward the local food and drink economy.
Now a string of one-to-one discussions is taking place to examine ideas – with the Food and Drink Forum also appealing for firms linked to the sector, such as hotels and restaurants, to get involved in the consultation.
“We were delighted that so many food and drink firms from Leicester and Leicestershire attended our first two consultation events, which gave us the chance to hear their views on the way forward for the sector locally,” said The Food and Drink Forum’s operations manager Briony Clarke.
“The events attracted businesses of all sizes and we received some interesting food for thought. The next stage of the consultation has now begun, and we are having one-to-one meetings with key businesses. We are also talking to the wider supply chain, such as hotels and restaurants, as well.
“A great deal of effort has been put in by many organisations and individuals over several years to ensure that Leicestershire has a vibrant food and drink sector. This strategy will build on that past work, on current initiatives, and will drive the sector forward so that it remains successful. ”
Leicestershire has a rich heritage when it comes to food and drink, with a diverse mix of rural and city-based producers and manufacturers of differing sizes. It is home to many household names like United Biscuits, Walkers, Pukka Pies and Everards, as well as producers of ethnic foods, artisan items and traditional products. Some are recognised around the world, and others have a very strong regional identity, such as Stilton and Melton Mowbray pork pies. Melton Mowbray is branded as the UK rural capital of food.
The Food and Drink Forum is drawing up the strategy on behalf of the Leicester and Leicestershire Multi-Area Agreement (MAA) Partnership, with support from the Leicestershire Rural Partnership (LRP).
The strategy is due to be compiled in the New Year.
Established in 1998, the Food and Drink Forum is a membership-led organisation that stimulates and supports the sustainable development of the sector in the East Midlands. It is run by a team of food industry professionals who have first hand knowledge of a wide range of business issues, including logistics, business development, sales and marketing. It has a Board of industry owner/managers.
Any Leicestershire businesses linked to the food and drink sector in the county who would like to put forward views or ideas should call 0115 9758810 or visit http://www.foodanddrinkforum.co.uk/